Viacom revenue miss adds to concerns over U.S. cable companies

Thu Aug 6, 2015 10:53am EDT
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By Anya George Tharakan

(Reuters) - Viacom Inc reported weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue, hurt by lower advertising revenue from its U.S. cable TV business as viewers increasingly shift to online streaming services.

The results add to investor concerns over the U.S. cable industry after disappointing numbers from Walt Disney, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, Discovery Communications Inc and Time Warner Inc this week.

Viacom's shares plunged as much as 18 percent to a near four-year low on Thursday. Shares of Disney, Fox, Discovery and Time Warner also fell for the second straight day.

Concerns over viewers cutting the cord on cable TV and moving online increased on Tuesday when Disney lowered its profit forecast for its cable business.

Viacom's advertising revenue fell 9 percent in its U.S. cable business, the fourth straight quarter of decline.

The company has been hurt by lower Nielsen ratings for some of its shows. Nielsen ratings, based on feedback from viewers, have long been the metric advertisers use to negotiate TV ad rates and make their decisions.

Viacom says that Nielsen ratings do not adequately reflect its viewership as viewers are shifting to digital platforms such as tablets and smartphones for their entertainment fix.

Revenue from Viacom's movie studio business, which includes Paramount Pictures Corp, fell 44 percent to $479 million. The company had benefited in the year-earlier quarter from the release of its blockbuster "Transformers: Age of Extinction".   Continued...

A woman exits the Viacom Inc. headquarters in New York April 30, 2013.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson